Billboard Awards preview:
Michael Jackson imagery is ‘as if he’s still alive’
By Robin Leach / Saturday, May 17, 2014 | 12:32 p.m.
- A “real-life” Michael Jackson will appear halfway through the 2014 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday at MGM Grand Garden Arena despite last-minute lawsuits and court filings to block the spectacle.
- “It’s as if he’s still alive. He’s totally real. It’s absolutely uncanny. People who have seen just a little of it have become so emotional, they have tears running down their face. They are sobbing because it’s as if he didn’t die,” I was told
- A veil of secrecy has been lowered over the Billboard extravaganza. The only official word from ABC and Dick Clark Productions is that “it will be a history-making performance.”
- But I learned exclusively Friday night that Michael’s image to be unveiled about halfway in the three-hour ABC telecast is brand new technology.
- “It was two years in development and took an additional six months to create for this network premiere,”
- “This is way, way beyond a hologram. It is way, way beyond what you know as 3D. This isn’t even digital. It is far more advanced and a totally new process.
- Michael will be seen dancing with a cast of dancers. He will be seen moonwalking back and forth the entire MGM Grand Garden Arena stage. He also will be seen dancing up and down stairs
- “This is the most emotional piece of television we have ever produced in our 40-year TV careers,” two Dick Clark Productions execs told me. “A few people have seen it, a tiny portion of it, already in the arena and have been crying — it’s that powerful. Incredibly, it plays even better on the TV screen, so imagine how viewers will react at home.
- “They will be in a state of disbelief. It’s as if he’s still alive at the height of his career.”
- I learned that Michael’s estate trustees came across undiscovered L.A. Reid recorded footage of Michael that they didn’t know existed. The lawsuit says the music will be a new song, “Slave to the Rhythm.”
- “They didn’t know what they originally wanted to do with it or make with it except just wanting to capture him alive forever. That became the background format for this new technology.
- “This has never been done before. It is 100 steps beyond anything anybody has ever thought you’d experienced as a hologram. It is so real, it is so lifelike, there is no way an audience would know the artist is not there in front of them.
- “That will be proven Sunday night with Michael Jackson, just like he’s done before time and time again as a pioneer with music-technology breakthroughs.”
- A few key major city radio DJs were given a 30-second sneak preview of the spectacle after signing secrecy agreements. Under strict promises of remaining anonymous, I was told: “Within 10 seconds, I was shaking. Then I started sobbing. Michael was alive. I had goose bumps. He was as real as the day I last saw him alive.
- “I cannot tell you what he does, but his fans from this point on will never believe that he died. It will be four minutes they will remember forever.”
- No plans for its future use have yet been revealed, but I am told that plans will be forthcoming and will be expanded to include other song material later.
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